Use fatigue and fever to gauge function

Researchers found that symptoms such as fatigue and fever are a better guide to the physical functioning of AIDS patients than biological and physiological factors such as current infections or time since diagnosis, according to a recent report in Medical Care.

Researchers found that symptoms alone explained nearly twice, or 56% of the variation in function in AIDS patients. In each case, better mental health was associated with fewer symptoms. In addition, lower total white blood cell count, longer time since diagnosis, and weight loss in the last year, were all associated with more fatigue. Weight loss and asthma were associated with more neurologic symptoms. Zidovudine use in the last month was associated with fewer neurological symptoms.

(See: Wilson IB, Cleary PD. Clinical predictors of functioning in persons with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Medical Care, 1996;34: 610-623.)